Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Slow Going

It's been slow going for the past few days. One of those stretches where I get to work, think "Oh, I should check news.YC", look at it but see nothing new interesting, head over to Reddit, nothing there, check FaceBook and LiveJournal and Planworld and Yahoo!Finance, come back to project, get a couple more lines in, go read a book, maybe a few function definitions, out for a run, come back, write a few more lines of code, update Diffle blog, and so on.

I don't really have any working code that I didn't have on Saturday. Plenty of non-working code, though. I'm trying to pull together all the Pylons, MogileFS, MTASC, JSON, JavaScript prototypes that I wrote into a single architecture that'll serve as the base for the production system. This is hard because:
  • It's a lot to keep in mind at once - storage within DB/distributed filesystem, file formats, duplication of information, how it'll be retrieved and displayed, modification, versioning, compilation, etc.
  • My natural perfectionist tendencies get in the way and I freak out about this being the real thing and not some throwaway prototype I can do a half-assed job at.
In Founders at Work, one of the questions that she asked every founder was "Did you ever want to quit?" I don't really want to quit - there's really nothing else for me, because I don't think I could be happy at a regular desk job where I take orders and code up somebody else's product. But this is one of those times when I worry that no matter how hard I try, I'll still fall short.

I also worry that I haven't really "jumped" yet. A friend of mine put it very eloquently (he was talking about parenthood, having married into a ready-made family, but it applies just as much to startups):

"But that's okay. Because once the step has been made -- and J____ never made it -- it's better to be there. Making the leap ahead, taking the plunge, there's a dozen different words for it. J____ stood on the brink for a while, but decided he didn't want to jump. I jumped."

There's a sort of emotional commitment to startups over and beyond working 12 hour days and quitting the day job. I'm not sure I have it yet. For that matter, I suspect that many of the places I've worked didn't have it, given how long it took them to develop software. It's a matter of becoming one with the problem domain and cranking out code as fast as you can type, because the whole program is there in your head.

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